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Friday, May 29, 2020

The Benefits of Supporting Local Businesses

May 29, 2020
The Benefits of Supporting Local Businesses

We’ve all heard the need to support local businesses. Buy local, eat local, go local. But sometimes buying locally can be difficult—whether in price, availability or convenience. Still, choosing community businesses can be worthwhile and worth advocating.
When it comes to supporting local business, you’re not just helping your community—it supports you too. Check out these reasons why going local helps you out in the long run.

1. Strengthen your local economy.
According to Civic Economics, for every dollar you spend at an independent business, 3 times more money is returned into the local economy, compared to that spent at a larger chain (50 times more compared to an online retailer). This money is going right back into the community you live and work in, helping support valuable programs for yourself and your family.
Small businesses often give back to the community in other ways: donating, buying or financially backing other independent groups. When small businesses are strong, the community and local economy are strengthened as well.

2. Create more jobs.
Not only is your local economy strengthened when you shop locally, but you also help create more jobs. These jobs could go to your friends, family or neighbors—people who would probably experience much more competition at a large chain store. Or, these jobs could go to you, just from doing your part to support the community.

3. Reduce environmental impact.
Locally owned businesses often make more local purchases for their products, requiring less transportation and outsourcing. They typically consume less land, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution. All of this leads to less congestion, less habitat loss and less negative impact on the environment. While this may not impact you immediately, it can definitely impact your children and grandchildren in the future.

4. Lower your taxes.
Everyone loves lower taxes, and supporting your local businesses can help do just that. Small businesses use land efficiently and have central locations which puts less demand on roads, sewers and safety services. Even more, independent businesses often generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. This means a greater percentage of local businesses helps to keep your taxes lower, as compared to mega stores.

5. Improve your family’s health.
When it comes to buying produce and choosing places to eat, local food distributors and restaurants are often the healthier choice for yourself and your family. According to GrubMarket, buying local food has numerous health benefits—opening you up to the world of organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, fresh eggs and dairy provided by grass-fed cows. This means you and your family can enjoy a tasty meal, while supporting the local community and choosing the healthiest option.
When it comes to choosing local businesses, helping the community means helping you, too. Whether it’s aiding the economy now or building a better world for future generations, small businesses are here for you. But first, they need a little support from you.
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Monday, May 11, 2020

Once upon a Time: Storytelling for Marketing

May 11, 2020
Once upon a Time: Storytelling for Marketing

Storytelling is a powerful tool, and when it comes to small business marketing, it can be even more impactful than you might give it credit for. Your brand has a purpose, and telling that story is a valuable content marketing tactic. How can you use storytelling to grow? Today, we’re going to learn how.

Storytelling shares your truth.
The stories you tell should be as authentic as possible. While storytelling is a powerful content marketing tool, getting trapped in a lie can severely hurt a business. Marketing Week advises that a brand’s story is not something businesses should refer to just when they launch a marketing campaign or issue a press release.
Rather, it should be the foundation on which a future growth strategy is built. How did the business originate? What is its mission? What are its values? How has it stayed true to those values and mission? These are all incredibly authentic, truthful stories that need to be shared with those interested in your business.

Storytelling builds your personality.
According to Fast Company, 92% of consumers want brands to share advertisements that tell stories. Brand storytelling shows a business’s personality, mission and values. It says who you really are and what is most important in the company. In today’s online world, a brand’s personality is almost as important as the actual product or service they provide. Storytelling is a useful outlet to let this personality shine through and engage consumers on a personal level.

Storytelling establishes relationships.
Storytelling brings in your audience and establishes an emotional relationship with those seeking a product or service. It shows a business as a relational, transformative, trustworthy entity—not just a money-hungry corporation. When consumers see a brand’s story, they feel drawn to it in the same way they’re drawn to other storylines, like movies, T.V. shows or music. And when consumers are drawn in and feel connected, that relationship continues to grow stronger as they learn more and more about a business.

Storytelling sets you apart.
Your business brand is unique, and telling your story is a great way to set that brand apart from the competition. Tell what makes you important, valuable and better than others in your field. Why are you the leading expert in an issue? Why should consumers purchase your product over another? When you tell the story or your brand, you set the business apart by showing its distinct origin, foundation and direction.

Storytelling drives action.
Finally, storytelling drives action for a business brand. When consumers see a brand’s personality, feel a relationship with it and see how it sets apart from the crowd, they will feel more inclined to do something—sign up for a mailing list, use a service or buy a product. This is the power in storytelling. Its unique content marketing strategy engages consumers on their level, then encourages them to seek more information and get involved.
In the end, the small businesses that learn how to use storytelling in their marketing strategy grow even better at reaching clients, building their consumer base and helping others.
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Friday, May 8, 2020

Three Tips to Keep Your Marketing on Track During COVID-19

May 08, 2020
Three Tips to Keep Your Marketing on Track During COVID-19

The last few months have changed life as we know it: the COVID-19 outbreak has had significant impacts on our personal lives as well as how we conduct business. Some organizations have had to drastically change not just their 2020 strategies but their day-to-day operations.
While every business encounters its own unique situations, navigating this crisis and carrying your business through it will take continued marketing. Focus your marketing in these five areas as we push through the pandemic.

1. Tailor your messaging.
The easiest way to drive a wedge between your business and your customers is to be tone deaf about the world at large. Sure, certain crises aren’t of the magnitude that they will ever pertain to your business. However, the coronavirus has impacted everyone around the world, and carrying on with business as usual or not acknowledging our new reality strips the humanity out of your persona.
Take time to modify your messaging on all of your platforms, but start with an alert on your website. Use your best real estate—an alert banner at the top of your site or the main image on your homepage—to note how your business is helping customers in the wake of COVID-19. Then revise your social media content to make sure it’s providing answers for customers wishing to do business with you. Speaking of which...

2. Enhance your social media presence. 
With so many people working remotely, screentime is rising. If you hadn’t invested in a content calendar for your social media, now is the time to develop one with careful attention to important messages for your customers. What you communicate on social media is perceived as the most real time information, so if you have information or rules for customers visiting your business, make sure it’s on social media.
For example, many businesses in the food sector during this dilemma have been diligent about posting takeout specials but, more importantly, how customers can help keep their employees safe. Upholding and ensuring essential public health practices is good for your brand and engenders trust and affinity for your business down the road.

3. Keep your business profiles up to date.
In times like these, it’s imperative to keep information about your business current. If your business hours or ways your staff can be reached have changed, make sure all of your profiles make it easy for customers to understand new ways of interacting with your business.
While what you communicate on social media is perceived as the most real-time information, it’s vital to update your Google My Business (GMB) profile too. On top of revised information or rules for customers visiting your business, your GMB profile can also help boost sales with its ecommerce functionality.
Following these tips are a great start to make the most of a difficult situation. Conducting business and marketing appropriately—not making light of the pandemic—is a tall task, but smart, focused tactics can help see your organization through.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Making the Most of your May Marketing

May 06, 2020
Making the Most of your May Marketing
Making the Most of your May Marketing 
May commemorates the start of springtime and soon-to-be summer. A revitalizing, warm month full of fresh flowers and cool, sunny weather.
For small businesses and marketers, May is chock full of opportunities to share products and services with clients and encourage new sales. If you’re looking to make the most of your small business marketing efforts during the month of May, check out some of these ideas to get started and grow.

Mother’s Day
This year, Mother’s Day falls on May 10, and it’s a great opportunity for businesses to reach out to families and market their products or services as a contributor to a special Mother’s Day experience.
Flowers, food and gifts are all commonly associated with Mother’s Day. If you’re a small business owner, tap into the holiday by showing how your business is family-friendly and eager to help out in any way to celebrate.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day is May 25, and though it may be towards the end of the month, now is a great time to get started on promoting sales and giveaways.
The three-day weekend gives you a prime opportunity to market items to people who want to enjoy the weekend, however that looks for them this year. Start advertising your Memorial Day sales and promotions early to see how many customers and clients you can attract.

End of School
This year looks a little different, of course, but May still marks the end of another school year for students of all ages. Celebrate by marketing end-of-the-school-year promotions! No matter what a business’s products or services are, there’s a way to reach out to students—elementary through college—and especially their parents.
How can you get them prepared for summer? What do you have to offer to celebrate the end of the year? Search your company for these answers and then market them to consumers.
From start to finish, May is a month full of awesome marketing opportunities for organizations. By taking advantage of some of these tips and tricks, your small business can continue to reach out to consumers and grow in the month of May.
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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Bleeds Demystified

April 23, 2020
Bleeds Demystified

Bleeds Demystified

Bleeds are super important, but for people who don’t live and breathe print like we do, they can be a bit confusing. If you need to get yourself up to speed quickly, I’m here to educate.

Bleeds: What even are they?

Bleed as a verb: A printed piece is said to “bleed” if the image reaches all the way to the edge of the sheet.
Fig 1.1: These layouts bleed.
Fig 1.2: These layouts do not.

Bleeds as a noun: “The bleeds” are a feature of a layout prepared for print that allow the finished product to bleed.

Fig 2: The bleed area around the perimeter of the layout

Why do I need bleeds?

Maybe you don’t! If your design leaves plenty of white space around all four edges (like the examples in fig. 2 above), then it doesn’t bleed and you don’t need to worry about including bleeds in your file.

Otherwise, it helps to understand that most print jobs, including anything that bleeds, are printed on a sheet that’s larger than the design’s finished size, because most printing equipment is unable to simply print to the edge of a sheet.

The complete press sheet looks something like this:
Fig 3: A press sheet. The bleeds are highlighted in yellow. 

The bleeds, highlighted above, are an area where the layout extends beyond its intended final size. Ultimately, this area is trimmed off, leaving a clean, professional finished product.

What happens without the bleeds? The slightest imprecision in the position of the print and/or the trim becomes totally conspicuous:

Fig 4: Cut edges with the bleeds missing. How embarrassing!

Okay, how do I set it up?

A common industry standard is to include at least an eighth-inch of bleed on all four sides. Specialized printing methods may require more or less, but for our purposes we’ll go with 1/8". Here’s how to configure your document to bleed in some common pieces of software:


Select “Document Setup” from the “File” menu. Pay attention to the section at the bottom labeled “Bleed and Slug.” (You’ll need to expand it if it’s hidden.) An eighth-inch can be entered as “0.125 in.” Don’t worry about the slug; that’s a subject for another day.

Now, when you view your document in normal mode (as opposed to preview mode), you’ll see the bleed area outlined in red. Make sure any part of your design that’s intended to hit the edge of the sheet extends beyond the trim line and reaches the red bleed line.

When it’s time to export your document as a PDF, make sure your export settings are configured to include the bleeds:


Select “Document Setup” from the “File” menu. Set the four fields labeled “Bleed” to “0.125 in.”

Now, you’ll see each artboard’s bleed area marked with a red line. Make sure any part of your design that’s intended to hit the edge of the sheet extends beyond the edges of the artboard and reaches the red bleed line.

When it’s time to save your design as a PDF, check the “Marks and Bleeds” section of your configuration to make sure you’re including the bleed area.


Photoshop doesn’t include any native support for including a bleed, so it needs to be done on a somewhat ad hoc basis.

First, select “Canvas Size” from the “Image” menu. (Not “Image Size!”) In order to account for an eighth-inch bleed on the top, left, right, and bottom edges, make your canvas size a quarter-inch wider and a quarter-inch taller than the intended final size. For example, if you’re designing for a final size of 8.5"×11", make your canvas size 8.75"×11.25".

Depending on how your document is composed, some or all of your layers might already fill the new added bleed area. On the other hand, if you started with a flat image, the extra eighth-inch will be empty:
If your image doesn’t fill the bleeds, I’ve got a helpful cheat for you. Use the eyedropper tool to select the empty bleed area.
From the “Edit” menu, select “Fill.” Set “Contents” to “Content-Aware” and hit OK.
Photoshop will automatically guess what the missing part of the image should look like.
Because the bleed area will ultimately be trimmed off, don’t worry too much if parts of it on the outside look a little weird. But you might need to perform a few manual touch-ups if anything sticks out close to the inside of the bleed area.
Once you think your bleeds are ready for production, save your document as usual.


From the “File” menu, select “Show print bleed.” The final trim size of your document will then be marked with a dotted line, with the bleed outside of it. Make sure any part of your layout that needs to bleed extends all the way to the outer edge of that area.
When you’re ready to download your document as a PDF, make sure the “Crop marks and bleed” option is enabled.
I hope this little tutorial has provided you with the understanding and the confidence to create beautiful bleeding print layouts. If you’d like further clarification about anything I’ve covered (or haven’t covered), feel free to give me a call. Thanks for reading!
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